Family life

Being a commuter takes its toll

Karine's weekend was anything but restful thanks to bad weather and a travelling snafu.

By Karine Ewart
Being a commuter takes its toll

Photo: Petersipiro/iStockphoto

The weekend is a bit of a blur.

It all started on my commute home on Friday. For those of you in southern Ontario, you know we got hit by an Arctic Nor'easter (that's weather speak for a bit of a snow storm). Nothing too crazy if you were in downtown Toronto, but I live over 100 kms east of the city along Lake Ontario, and I was getting bbm's from my family and friends at home telling me that the roads were really bad. Jay was still away in Las Vegas on business (an oxymoron, no?), so I skipped out early from work knowing that it would take me longer than usual to get home. I had borrowed my father-in-law's SUV because Jay had taken our truck to the airport and I stupidly procrastinated getting snow-tires on my little VW.  (This last sentence will have greater significance shortly.)

About five minutes into my drive, I heard on the radio that Highway 401 was closed both ways due to a 50+ car pile-up caused by white-outs and snow squalls. (I actually wasn't 100 percent sure what a snow squall was but obviously it was not good.) My immediate thoughts went to those poor people. The radio kept reminding passengers to stay in their vehicles and that help was on the way. How frightening! Then, I thought of my kids at home with a babysitter, and knew I needed to get home another way.

Covered in snow, I ran into the VIA rail station at Guildwood, threw my bag and keys onto the counter, begged for a ticket then raced to the platform to catch my train. (These, too, will be very important details shortly.)

Thankfully, I got home by 7:30 p.m., and I was able to spend the rest of the evening hanging with my little monsters.

Saturday was just as action-packed: Up at 7 a.m. to get the three boys fed and dressed for their hockey tournament. I dropped Milla at her dance studio then we headed to the arena, an hour away. We had a ton of fun at hockey, and arrived back home at 7 p.m. Dinner and a movie with all of us home together completed our much needed, relatively quiet day. 

Sunday, I got up at 6:30 a.m., ran on the treadmill (only for 20 minutes, but it was better than nothing!), was at the grocery store by 9 a.m., and back home by 11 a.m. As I was madly throwing food at the boys (they had to be at the hockey arena at 11:30 a.m.), my father-in-law called, asking for the keys to his SUV. He was going to go get his vehicle from the train station in Scarborough where I had ditched it Friday evening. (Do you see where this is headed yet?) I looked in my coat pocket. I looked in my purse. I looked in my room, my car, everywhere. "When did I last have them?" I wracked my brain. Snowstorm. Throwing everything on the ticket window counter as paid for my ticket. "Crap!"

I called VIA rail and reached a gentleman in Montreal who called Guildwood station; nothing. I drove to our train station where the agent called Ottawa. "No, sorry, no keys had been discovered." Thankfully, my FIL took the news well — even more thankfully he had a spare set! Before he went on his way, he decided to give it one last try at our local train station. They called Guildwood and asked if someone could please take another look. Sure enough, the keys were there!!!

I am writing this as I ride the 7 a.m. Monday train into the city; the weather report called for freezing rain, and there was no way I was going to risk repeating last Friday (or, consequently, Sunday, too). Now, I know we live in Canada, and weather during this time of year can be unpredictable, but I would love to hear that I am not the only one who gets a bit frazzled when my regular route to work gets more complicated than usual.

Anyone else a commuter? Does it take a toll on you?

This article was originally published on Jan 28, 2013

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